Monday, December 20, 2010

Wikileaks: comparing conspiracy theories

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It isn't as if conspiracies don't exist, but generally stupidity or incompetence explain most disasters and even real conspiracies don't tend to be as elaborate as their legion of fans would like to believe. But if we define a "conspiracy" as when two or more people combine to do something that would normally carry punishment in such a way so as not to be punished, then there are quite a few of them around. Certainly the Wikileaks data-dump would qualify as one under that definition.

Until Wikileaks itself leaks, we are forced to speculate. Without entering the baroque, we have to proceed from the simple to the more complex.

The first question would be: is the simplest explanation the true one?

There are two basic simple explanations as far as I can see:

One: Pfc Manning is a brave and principled young man, who, shocked by his country's criminal behavior, decided to blow the whistle and sought out Julian Assange, another brave and principled young man, who decided to help him.


Two: Pfc Manning, who had broken up with his boyfriend was depressed and, feeling a bit spiteful, decided to commit the biggest electronic security coup de main since British intelligence broke the German code, "Ultra" during WWII. Julian Assange, a megalomaniac and a lousy lay, saw his chance for super stardom and a lifetime supply of condom-free groupies and decided to aid and abet him.

There is probably some truth in both versions, but if you think anything this big is that simple, you probably would have no trouble believing that the Swedish prosecutor is chasing Assange around Europe solely because of a broken condom... As well he may be... like I say, for the moment we are flying blind.

I, for one, happen to think that a very competent foreign intelligence service has been involved in this and is using Assange thirst for the limelight to cover their tracks.

Right off the bat, before we go any farther, I'll tell you I don't think Israel is behind Wikileaks' data-dump.

I don't see them gaining very much from it, certainly not enough to justify the risk.

I would say that there are two major countries that have enough motives to take the risks involved: Russia and China.

Russia has the human assets in the west, the experience and the know how to pull it off easily.

China has much more motivation than the Russians, although both countries benefit from the data-dump, witness Putin "nominating" Assange for the Nobel Prize.

For me the prime suspect is still China.

Why would the Chinese do this?

In my scenario, the United States is accusing China of currency manipulation. America's government is very interested in China revaluing their currency in order to make US exports more competitive. The Chinese are not cooperating. To put on pressure, the US has been organizing a human rights, "transparency" and democracy blitz to embarrass the Chinese. This mixture of Internet, bloggers and  human rights NGOs are the formula used in all the "color" revolutions such as the "Orange Revolution" in the Ukraine or the Twitter led "Green Revolution. The Chinese naturally resent having these techniques employed on them.

My idea is that the Chinese have had two objectives. To embarrass the United States and to change the subject of conversation from Liu Xiaobo's Noble Peace Prize, for example, or Tibet, or "The Great Firewall" that blocks access to the Internet in China.

"The Americans demand transparency?" say the Chinese in my scenario, "We'll see how much they really like it."  "You like Glasnost, here two helpings, rice on the side".

So far, if they weren't behind the data-dump, they are certainly benefiting from it more than anyone else I can think of. People are talking of little else. Liu Xiaobo's Noble Peace Prize ceremony was overshadowed by the daily delivery of American diplomacy's dirty laundry. Brilliant! Turn the enemy's strength against him. Sun Tzu is grinning from ear to ear somewhere in the Taoist heaven.

Assange's biggest mistake was to take the bait and turn himself, or let himself be turned into, the poster boy for the data-dump. People who have in turn taken the bait and accepted him as a hero are going to be bitterly disillusioned. This is all political and Assange has just made himself the butt of a million jokes. He is the one who insisted that he be the poster boy of Wikileaks... so now this is about him and all his busted condoms.

"Outing" the State Department, using Army personnel, is the ultimate in hardball. If Assange had done it to the Russians he would have died of plutonium poisoning and if he had done it to the Israelis his body would probably never be found. And if he had done it to the Chinese... yum, yum. Assange is counting on the Americans not being as rough as the above mentioned... big mistake, we're just more hypocritical. DS


-bwg said...

Why don't you include the United States among the suspected government with the motive and means to engineer these leaks?

-bwg said...

Following up on my previous hasty comment, engineering the Wikileaks cable dump give the U.S. an excuse to monitor and censor the new, place limits on the first amendment and, by doing so, scare the shit out of the MSM (which is already pretty mealy mouthed, anyway).

Besides, who else could and would have filtered out all the cables that might be harmful to Israel?

Thomas Retterbush said...

Yes, like bwg said, the US government is going to use the Wikileaks cable dump an excuse to monitor and censor the new, place limits on the first amendment. You could argue that Wikileaks played right into their hands.